posted on March 31, 2012 in entertainment
@review BUDDY PINNEO
Lana Del Rey
Born To Die
RELEASED: January 31, 2012
It’s hard to imagine a more polarizing figure in popular music recently. With tens of millions of views of her videos on YouTube, Lana Del Rey’s grassroots buildup was smoldering. And then, with one appearance on Saturday Night Live, the critics were everywhere.
The Twitterverse exploded. The blogosphere was on fire. Even NBC’s Brian Williams got into the act, albeit accidentally, calling her appearance “one of the worst outings in SNL history.” The fact is, dozens of acts on SNL have disappointed live. But as uber-producer Brian Eno has said, “performing live is one thing…making a record is something different.” Del Rey’s live chops will come.
So what about the record? With a debut at number one in seven countries, Born To Die needs no apology. It is, in a word, captivating. And it’s easy to see, it’s all by design.
For someone born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, choosing “Lana Del Rey” as a stage name is almost radically campy. She’s described herself as a “gangster Nancy Sinatra,” and it’s surprising how much her music delivers.
Highly cinematic, meticulously and densely produced, unwaveringly melodramatic – this is a film-noir, torch-song soundtrack to a heartbreaking movie only Del Rey has seen.
The title song opens with a slow burn, with Del Rey singing somberly at the lower end of her contralto voice. And then, about a minute and half into the track, something happens. She elevates in register, and the result is striking in its emotional impact. Her vocals aren’t perfect, yet this somehow makes her more approachable, vulnerable and ultimately, intriguing. She sings like a deeply wounded femme fatale, and you’re dying for the back story.
Next is “Off To The Races,” which debuts the hip-hop influence felt throughout Born To Die.
Others have compared the sound to a Kanye-style production.
For “Blue Jeans,” all you need to get the song is when she sings in the chorus, “I will love you till the end of time.” It’s striking in its dramatic simplicity. When you hear it, you’re in.
And then comes the beautifully jarring “Video Games,” and it’s over. Del Rey has said it makes her cry to sing it and you can believe it.
This is just a taste of Born To Die. You’ll have to listen for yourself to see how incredible it actually is.
4 out of 5 stars.